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Indian Prime Minister Seeks New Investment from Global Business Titans


India's prime minister is looking for huge investments from foreign corporations to help improve his country's infrastructure. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from New Delhi that Manmohan Singh made the pitch to a gathering of visiting international business titans.

Speaking to some of the world's top business leaders gathered in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh predicted India's rapid economic growth will continue for the foreseeable future.

Mr. Singh is widely lauded as the architect of the country's economic boom as finance minister in the early 1990's. But he says more business participation is needed to sustain the growth.

"Our needs are immense. In the next five years we need more than $450 billion as investment in infrastructure sectors alone. We see this coming from both domestic sources and from foreign investors."

India's economy is growing at between nine and 10 percent annually, but hundreds of millions of its citizens are still deeply mired in poverty.

The prime minister says that is not going to change quickly.

"We need two more decades of sustained effort and work if we are to get rid of chronic poverty, ignorance and disease which have afflicted millions of our countrymen for centuries."

Meanwhile, thousands of farmers and peasants from across the country rallied in New Delhi, demanding land reforms.

In a reflection of the other India - the one that is booming - Mumbai's key Sensex stock index briefly topped the 20,000 level, for the first time.

Prime Minister Singh called that figure a positive signal for investment. Regarding the protesters, his government has agreed to establish a committee to look into their grievances.

The government's plans to establish special economic zones to attract foreign investment have led to violent protests by farmers who would be forced off the land.

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